City of Summerville Press Release Regarding Drinking Water / Pending Litigation

In January of 2020, test results for perfluoroalkyl chemicals, also referred to
as “forever chemicals” (PFOS/PFOA), were discovered in the City of Summerville’s
drinking water supply. In consultation with the Georgia Environmental Protection
Division (“EPD”), Summerville issued a Health Advisory to its customers that the
amounts of PFOS/PFOA found in the water were in excess of the United States
Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) Health Advisory limit. Thereafter, the
City sought to provide alternative drinking water sources for its customers.
Immediate steps were taken to determine water treatment options for the Raccoon
Creek Treatment Plant to address the situation.
The City has now installed Granular Activated Carbon (“GAC”) filters at the
Raccoon Creek water treatment plant to bring levels of PFAS/PFOS below the EPA
Health Advisory limits. The installation of GAC filters has been expensive, and it
is also expensive to periodically replace the GAC filters, which must be done to
ensure that the PFAS/PFOS pollution does not break through. Additional long-term
solutions are being considered and evaluated to address the problem and find a
permanent solution.
While the City of Summerville’s water is safe to drink, we do not believe
Summerville’s water customers should be burdened with the added costs of
construction of filtration systems and added operational costs that are incurred in
making the water safe.
A lawsuit is pending in the United States District Court for the Northern
District of Georgia identified as Earl Parris, Jr., et al. v. 3M Company, et al. The
City of Summerville, through its Mayor and City Council, has retained legal counsel
to intervene in the federal court case to assert legal claims on behalf of the City for
its past, present, and future costs of treating the water supply to remove the harmful
chemicals present in Raccoon Creek and to hold the manufacturers that made these
chemicals accountable.
The City of Summerville is not making any legal claims against the Town of
Trion, Mt. Vernon Mills, or landowners whose property has been damaged by the
application of the chemicals. A copy of the City’s Motion to Intervene, as well as
the City’s proposed lawsuit, will be available for viewing on the City’s website. As
with all pending litigation, the City will have no further comment on its efforts to
pursue these legal claims.